Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Exchange of fire in Odisha another setback to Maoists in AOB region




Sumit Bhattacharjee
VISAKHAPATNAM 13 OCTOBER 2021 01:26 IST
UPDATED: 13 OCTOBER 2021 01:26 IST
    The Maoists are trying to cross over to Chhattisgarh, say police
With three more Maoists being killed in an alleged exchange of fire with the security forces near the Tulasipahad area in Odisha on Tuesday, the cadres have received another major setback in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region this year.

Among the three, two are said to be women and the exchange of fire took place in the Tulasi Reserve Forest near the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border. The deceased, said to be the members of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), were part of the team being led by Gajarla Ravi alias Uday, and Aruna.


This was the fourth exchange of fire after the major encounter in Teegalametta in Koyyuru in June this year, in which six Maoists including top leaders such as Ashok and Ranadev were killed by the the Greyhounds, the anti-naxal force of Andhra Pradesh. Thereafter, there were two more exchanges of fire on the Andhra side of the AOB and another on the Odisha side.

In September, Maoist senior leader Dubashi Sankar was arrested by the Odisha Police in Koraput. Senior leaders such as Jalandhar Reddy alias Krishna and Chikkudu Chinna Rao alias Sudheer surrendered before the Andhra Pradesh police this year.

The leadership has weakened with most of them dying in exchanges of fire and many surrendering before the police in the recent times. The onus is of leading the cadres now on Uday, Aruna, Kakuri Pandana alias Jagan and Suresh.

According to police, there are hardly about 15 to 20 cadres and leaders left in the AOB region and they depend on the cadres imported from Chhattisgarh. The recruitment has almost dried down in the region and after the Koyyuru encounter, it is learnt that the Maoist leadership is trying to crossover to Chhattisgarh with the remaining cadres.

They are now focussing on the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border region.

The security forces are making deep inroads into the AOB region on both the sides, including in Maoist strongholds in Visakaha Agency and in the Swabhiman Anchaal in the cut-off region. The AOB is no longer a safe haven and this appears to be factor to look towards Chhattisgarh, said a senior police officer who is engaged in anti-Maoist operations.

On Tuesday, heavy fire was exchanged between the combined security forces of Odisha comprising Special Operations Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF), and the Maoists in three to four places in the same area and it lasted over an hour.

As per the IG (Operations) Amitabh Thakur, going by the heavy firing, it was estimated that the Maoist strength could be between 15 to 20 members.

It is learnt that the group was being led by senior Maoist leader Suresh and the Maoist had triggered a landmine too